Epic hits back at Apple’s iOS ‘Security’ defense in appeals court

Epic hits back at Apple’s iOS ‘Security’ defense in appeals court

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It’s been over a year since a US district court ruled that Apple did not violate antitrust laws by forcing iOS developers (such as the plaintiff and Fortnite maker Epic Games) to use the App Store and in-app payment systems. But that doesn’t mean the case is settled, as both sides demonstrated Monday during oral arguments before the Ninth Court of Appeals. The hearing was full of arcane discussions of legal standards and procedures for reviewing the case and its precedents, as well as input from state and federal authorities on how to interpret the relevant laws. In the end, however, the core arguments before the appeals court once again revolved around issues of walled gardens, user lock-in, and security versus transparency in platform design.

Defending Apple’s position, attorney Mark Perry argued that the company’s restrictions on the distribution of iOS apps were put in place from the beginning to protect iPhone users. Based on its experience managing software security and privacy on Macs, Apple decided that they “didn’t want the phone to be like a computer. Computers are buggy, they crash, they have problems. They wanted the phone to be better .” If the Mac App Store was the equivalent of a lap belt, the iOS App Store, with its expensive human rating system, is “a six-point racing harness,” Perry said. “It’s safer. They’re both safe, but it’s safer.” While Epic claimed that the iPhone’s walled garden “just keeps competition out,” Perry shot back that “what is kept out of walled gardens are scammers and pornographers and hackers and malware and spyware and foreign governments…” This provides superior user security, Perry said , is a key “non-price feature” that helps differentiate the iPhone from its Android-based competition. Users who want the more open system that Epic is championing can already buy an Android phone and choose from a variety of App Stores, Perry said. By doing so, however, these users “open themselves up to more intrusion” compared to an iPhone, he argued. The kind of “pro-competitive” security features Apple offers with its App Store restrictions legally outweigh the “less anti-competitive effects” iOS app developers face on the platform, Perry said.

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[…] Apple’s Perry argued that Epic presented “no data or empirical evidence” to show that users felt locked into Apple’s app ecosystem. Epic failed to initiate the usual investigation that would show users were concerned about switching costs or information costs in a case like this, Perry said, a “lack of evidence” that he said avoids any other technical legal requirements. At the same time, Perry said that Epic carefully “crafted a market definition that only suited Google and Apple” in arguing its case and has not been able to bring in other developers to support a class action lawsuit. Epic “didn’t want to fight with the consoles, didn’t want to fight with Microsoft,” he said, despite similarities in the “walled garden” approaches in those markets. The three-judge appeals panel gave little away about which arguments it favored during Monday’s hearing, asking both sides pointed questions. A verdict in the appeal case is expected sometime next year.

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